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Ravens vs. New England — It’s a “7-Star Lock” game

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Ravens vs. New England — It’s a “7-Star Lock” game

Posted on 20 December 2013 by Drew Forrester

You know how it goes in gambling.

There are games you “like”, games you “feel good about” and games where you say, “it’s a lock!”

I have a slam-dunk thing called the “7-Star Lock” that I only bring out for very special occasions.

I’ve only used the “7-Star Lock” twice this season.

It hit both times.

The first go-round was in Baltimore last month when the Ravens edged the Bengals 20-17 in overtime.  The Friday before, I ended our award-winning segment – “Picks and Comment” – with the stunning revelation that the game in Baltimore two days later was “the lock of all locks”.  Hence, the reason it was a 7-Star Lock.

You just don’t label a game a 7-Star Lock unless you know it’s a done deal.

In fact, the 7-Star Lock is just like a honeybee.  When a honeybee stings you, that’s essentially its final act, as it will perish hours later.

If the 7-Star Lock ever fails, it, too, is dead.  A 7-Star Lock can only be used while owning a perfect record.

Anyway, following the successful application of the 7-SL on the Bengals in Baltimore (“I don’t care what you say, Cincinnati isn’t coming to Baltimore and beating the Ravens this Sunday…”), I took a few weeks off before finding another 7-SL game.

Last Sunday in Miami, I called the Dolphins over New England a 7-Star Lock for the hometown ‘Fins.

You can up that record to 2-0 on 7-SL’s this season.

Oddly enough, New England will once again be involved in a 7-Star Lock game.  It’s this Sunday afternoon in Baltimore.

Baltimore 26 – New England 13

And, yes, you can make that a 7-Star Lock.

New England’s not coming to Baltimore and winning on Sunday.  They don’t have enough offense, even though they have the best QB in the league.  They don’t have a defense that can stop the Ravens long enough to let the referees work their expected late-game magic for Bill Belichick’s team.

They have a very good kicker.

The Ravens have a great one.

New England doesn’t have to win the game.

Baltimore does.

The Ravens don’t lose big home games.  Not under John Harbaugh, anyway.  Not in December.

The last time the Ravens spit the bit in a home game of this kind of magnitude was January 13, 2007 when the ’06 campaign ended abruptly with a 15-6 loss to the Colts in the AFC playoffs.

Ain’t happenin’ this Sunday in Baltimore, trust me.

Ravens in a romp.

Book it.

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Ravens win and Flacco sticks a sock in the mouth of his detractors (shhhhhhh…)

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Ravens win and Flacco sticks a sock in the mouth of his detractors (shhhhhhh…)

Posted on 12 January 2013 by Drew Forrester

That should, finally, shut up everyone in town when it comes to Joe Flacco.

Thank.  God.

After a season of being raked over the coals – make that five seasons – by fans in Baltimore, the quarterback went into Denver and engineered an epic Ravens post-season victory on Saturday afternoon.  He only beat one of the game’s greatest field generals, in his arena, on the biggest stage possible.  The coup de grace, of course, was the 70 yard strike to Jacoby Jones with 0:31 left in the game that sent the contest to overtime.  A week ago in Baltimore, Joe out-dueled the NFL’s new Fair Haired Boy, Andrew Luck, and today he knocked off the guy that Luck replaced on the league’s Love Chart.

Read it – and weep if you’re a #5 hater:  Joe Flacco went to Denver and beat Peyton Manning.

I assume we’ll no longer be hearing from Flacco detractors, which is truly -golden-silence-to-my-ears.

And I’m also guessing that seals the deal on a new Flacco contract sometime over the next six weeks or so.

With the Ravens making their third AFC title game appearance in Flacco’s five-year career next Sunday, even his most ardent haters have to finally wave the white towel and hop on the bandwagon.

Let’s see now…in his first season with the team, the-then rookie went into Nashville and eliminated the top seed Titans.

In the 2009 season, it was a trip to Foxboro and a playoff win over Tom Brady.

There was a post-season road demolishing of Kansas City in 2010.

And then, today, it was Flacco beating Peyton Manning in his own building.  Another first seed eliminated.  Five seasons in the league and a playoff road win in four of them.

Other than a Super Bowl trip, what more could you possibly ask for from your quarterback, his coach, and the team?

There must be nothing more satisfying for Flacco than to shut up the experts in town who kept saying he couldn’t play a lick or that he wasn’t worth “the big money” he was expected to get at the end of this season.  But, he hasn’t talked much about it, because Joe knows the truth.  Words don’t mean jack.  Winning games is all that matters — and that’s basically all he’s done since showing up in Baltimore back in 2008.

Flacco is keenly aware that plenty of people around town have questioned him over the years.  And, as a competitor, there’s no doubt he’s taking particular joy from proving himself RIGHT and proving everyone else WRONG.

With one more win, the Ravens will head to the Super Bowl in New Orleans and Joe Flacco will be their quarterback.  That’s all that’s left on his “Next To Do” list.  Once he gets there, the goal changes, naturally, but for now — coming up — he’s one win away from playing in the biggest game the league can offer.

I’m just so happy that we won’t have to hear from the anti-Flacco crowd anymore…finally, finally, finally – their ship has sailed.

 

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A four-part summary of an easy Ravens win over Indy

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A four-part summary of an easy Ravens win over Indy

Posted on 06 January 2013 by Drew Forrester

If you’re looking for some points-of-light besides the Ray Lewis story, I’ll go ahead and give you some.  I’m sure everyone else in the media will handle the Ray-retirement angle, so I’ll look back at Sunday’s 24-9 whipping of Indianapolis and give you four different things on which to chew.

Not in any order of importance, mind you, but here’s what happened on Sunday.

The stage was too big for Luck

Sure, he threw for a handful more yards (six) than Joe Flacco.  He also had thirty-one more attempts.  Yes, you read that right.  The kid had 288 yards on 54 attempts while his opponent in purple was an effective 12-for-23 for 282 yards.  Luck’s QB rating was woeful (59.8) while Flacco’s was superb (125.6).

Simply put, Andrew Luck wasn’t very good on Sunday afternoon.

Now, let’s note right from the start that his offensive line was horrendous.  And that’s being kind.

But the golden boy from Stanford – the likely Rookie of the Year in the NFL – was hardly a threat all afternoon, particularly in the first half when he looked completely rattled.  His deep balls had too much air under them and his inability to sniff out pressure led to far too many scrambles and errant throws.  Luck did settle down in the second half and was a tad better, but years from now he’ll look back on this performance and wince at how rookie-ish he looked for most of the day.

He’ll have plenty of big games in his career, but Sunday’s outing in Baltimore surely wasn’t one of them.

McKinnie steps in and steps up

With left guard Jah Reid out, John Harbaugh was forced to shuffle his offensive line on Sunday, and the emergency nod went to veteran Bryant McKinnie, who played left tackle in place of Michael Oher, who was switched to right tackle so that Kelechi Osemele could sub for Reid at right guard.  Get it?  McKinnie was the big benefactor of the Reid injury, and the Ravens prospered as well, as the big man put together a nice afternoon protecting Joe Flacco.

A week ago in Cincinnati, McKinnie saw extensive playing time in the final three quarters and to say he looked disinterested would be like saying Ray Lewis looked “sort of” fired up for Sunday’s home finale.

McKinnie has spent most of the 2012 season on the bench.  He’s also spent most of the season out-of-shape, overweight and, when pressed into duty, he’s been largely ineffective, no pun intended.

But Harbaugh got him to break a sweat last week in practice when Reid wasn’t able to suit up and the 5th year coach rolled the dice that his veteran left tackle might actually try in the Colts game.

It was a gamble, of course, for Harbaugh saw just one week before in Cincinnati that McKinnie’s series-by-series effort was basically a coin flip.

But the decision worked out for the coach and the offense, as McKinnie stood up to Dwight Freeney for four quarters and kept Flacco upright virtually all day long.

(Please see next page)

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Let this sink in — This Sunday could be the final home game ever for Ray and Reed

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Let this sink in — This Sunday could be the final home game ever for Ray and Reed

Posted on 19 December 2012 by Drew Forrester

This Sunday’s battle with the Giants could be the game Ravens fans have been dreading for a long time.

Depending on what happens in Baltimore – and Pittsburgh – this weekend and next, there’s a chance you’ll be watching Ray Lewis and Ed Reed both play their final home game ever as members of the Ravens.

Go ahead and read that sentence again and let it sink in.

When you settle in your seats at 4:25 pm this Sunday, it could be the final time you see Reed and Lewis in purple.

Ray, of course, might not even play in the game as he continues to nurse an upper arm injury.  Reed, no doubt, will be on the field as the Ravens look to sew up their second straight AFC North title. But if the two do suit up and play and things don’t go Baltimore’s way over the next three weekends of football, Sunday could be the end of two amazing runs for those sure-fire-Hall-of-Famers.

A month ago, it looked like the Ravens would be guaranteed at least one home post-season game.  Now, it’s far from a certainty.  John Harbaugh’s team could still finish as high as the 3rd seed (by finishing tied with New England) or they could drop all the way down to the 6th seed (by finishing at 9-7 and tied with the Bengals and Steelers and with Indy winning one of their last two).  If Baltimore finishes as the 6th seed, they’d play away on the first weekened of the post-season and who knows what happens from there.

That makes this Sunday, potentially, the final home game of the 2012 season.

And that also means it could be the final home game in the career of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed.

Reed is without a contract for 2013 and it would appear, for the first time ever, that the Ravens are in position to seriously consider whether or not he could be useful in the future.  My guess, just based on a couple of conversations I’ve had with folks in the know at Owings Mills, is that the Ravens will not pursue a new deal with Reed.  Lewis has a contract for 2013 but there’s definitely a chance that Ozzie Newsome will bring Ray in for “the talk” and try to explain to him that his days as a full-time player – in Baltimore, at least – have come to an end.  Giving Lewis the respect he deserves, my guess is the Ravens would then allow him to contact teams and make his best deal for 2013 — which would include the Ravens getting a courtesy 5th round draft pick or something like that.

Ray could, of course, simply say, “It’s been a helluva run…I’m not going to finish in another uniform.  I’ll just ride off into the sunset like the champion I am.”

I’m certainly not saying this Sunday is, without question, the final home game in the career of those two.

I am saying, though, that it COULD be.

I’ve never said that before.

Or even thought that before, honestly.

But it’s the truth, as staggering as it might seem.

I sure hope this Sunday isn’t the final time we get to see No. 52 and/or No. 20 in purple.  If it is, though, it’s been one helluva run for those two.

In fact, we’ll probably never see anything like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed again.

 

 

 

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